Harry Edmund Martinson
The Cable Ship
We fished up the Atlantic Cable one day between the Barbadoes and the Tortugas,
held up our lanterns
and put some rubber over the wound in its back,
latitude 15 degrees north, longitude 61 degrees west.
When we laid our ear down to the gnawed place
we could hear something humming inside the cable.
"It's some millionaires in Montreal and St John
talking over the price of Cuban sugar, and ways to
reduce our wages," one of us said.
For a long time we stood there thinking, in a circle of lanterns,
we're all patient cable fishermen,
then we let the coated cable fall back
to its place in the sea.
Swedish; trans Robert Bly
Harry Edmund Martinson, Swedish, trans. Robert Bly, Friends, You Drank Some Darkness,
1975, Beacon Press.